Tag Archives: National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit

A brief, incomplete but hopefully somewhat illustrative contextual timeline of spycop infiltrations around London Greenpeace and beyond throughout the 1980s and 1990s

Put together purely from information in the public domain. Broadly chronological. A ‘rough cut’.

  • The Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) infiltration/provocation programme began in 1968
  • London Greenpeace – an avowedly anarchist environmentalist group – is set up in 1971 in opposition to French nuclear testing
  • Dave Morris began regularly attending London Greenpeace meetings in 1979
  • In the early/mid 1980s, animal rights and environmental activist groups were a high priority target for Special Branch, the SDS and other similar police units
  • In 1983 local activists, including Dave Morris, set up the North London anarchist group Haringey Community Action (Steel later joins)
  • Special Branch officer Bob Lambert AKA ‘Bob Robinson’ was infiltrated into the London activist scene in 1983 – and almost immediately entered into his first on-deployment long-term sexual relationship, with an activist woman ‘Charlotte’ (she was 22 and he 10 years her senior, and secretly married to another woman)
  • Lambert infiltrated London Greenpeace in 1984
  • In 1985 ‘Charlotte’ gave birth to a son by Bob Lambert
  • In 1985 London Greenpeace begins a non-violent campaign highlighting issues such as animal abuse, advertising, nutrition and labour conditions at McDonald’s.
  • In 1986 the initial Animal Rights National Index (ARNI) was set up by Special Branch in Essex – a database tracking animal rights activists and actions
  • Activists from London Greenpeace – including Bob Lambert, but not Dave Morris or Helen Steel – wrote the ‘What’s Wrong With McDonald’s’ factsheet in 1986
  • In 1987 Bob Lambert knowingly instigated a long-term sexual relationship with a non-activist woman, Karen/’Sarah’/’Jenny’, to further build up his cover
  • In 1987 three incendiary devices are set at department stores around south-eastern England as part of an ALF campaign – two men are arrested, prosecuted and convicted based on Bob Lambert’s inside intelligence; subsequently he is accused of having set the third device
  • In 1987 Special Branch sergeant John Dines (AKA ‘John Barker’) is sent in to Hackney to infiltrate political groups including London Greenpeace
  • Activists from the now winding-down HCA in 1988 set up Tottenham Against The Poll Tax, one of the first English AntiPoll Tax Unions; it is followed by the Hornsey & Wood Green and Green Lanes APTUs, and subsequently all three come together as the Haringey APTU
  • By the end of 1988 Lambert comes to the end of his deployment and disengages from his relationship with ‘Sarah’/’Jenny’ – who despite not being an activist had had her home raided by Special Branch purportedly looking for Lambert as part of the ALF firebombing dragnet
  • ARNI was further established at Scotland Yard in 1989
    McDonald’s security bosses Sid Nicholson and Terry Carrol – both former senior Met borough officers from Brixton police station – attend meetings with Special Branch in relation to London Greenpeace and anti-McDonald’s protests from 1989, and possibly earlier
  • From 1989, McDonald’s contract at least two separate private investigation agencies (Bishops Investigation Bureau/Westhall Services and Kings Investigation Bureau) to infiltrate and spy on the London Greenpeace to ascertain who wrote the ‘What’s Wrong With McDonald’s’ fact sheet; the infiltration continues until at least 1991
  • In 1990 McDonald’s issues libel writs against five named London Greenpeace activists, including Morris and Steel, for distributing the fact sheet; three offer apologies and give an undertaking not to further distribute the leaflet but Morris and Steel decide to defend the case
  • In 1990 John Dines begins a relationship with ‘Clare’ AKA Helen Steel which will last the rest of his deployment
  • In 1991 the remit of ARNI was extended so that it could now act operationally (i.e. it is no longer simply running a database)
  • The Earth First!-aligned road protest group Reclaim The Streets emerges in 1991 through the Claremont Road resistance to the M11 Link Road in East London
  • Following the success of the anti-Poll Tax campaign, in 1991 the three local groups which comprise HAPTU first use the joint banner ‘Haringey Solidarity Campaign’ and look towards wider community organising; in 1994 the three groups formally come together as HSG, with Dave Morris one of the driving forces
  • After a five year period spent infiltrating not just London Greenpeace but also squatter groups, anti-Poll Tax unions and other anti-capitalist groups in Haringey, Hackney, Stoke Newington and elsewhere, in 1992 John Dines is exfiltrated suddenly, to the distress of Helen Steel, who at the time is embarking on the start of the pre-trial period of the McLibel defence campaign
  • Stephen Lawrence is murdered in 1993; police infiltrate Peter Francis AKA ‘Peter Daley’ AKA ‘Pete Black’ into anti-racist groups, police watch-style campaigns and leftist politics in the lead up to the October ‘Unity’ demonstration, as well as the M11 anti-roads campaign; he leaves his undercover posting in 1997
  • Following several years of legal arguments – which see the defendants denied legal aid or a jury trial – the McLibel trial proper begins in 1994
  • Special Branch’s remit is extended to include environmental activists
  • In 1995 police officer Mark Jenner AKA ‘Mark Cassidy’ is infiltrated into the north London activist scene; he targets the Colin Roach Centre in an attempt to get close to Red Action/Anti-Fascist Action, as well as the anti-blacklisting Building Workers Group, and the Hackney Community Defence Association – he has a relationship with an unwitting local woman ‘Alison’ from 1996-2000, when he disappears
  • RTS starts down a very different road to its previous actions and hosts the first of its street parties in Camden High Street in May 1995, followed swiftly by other ones in Islington and elsewhere
  • Special Branch officer Andrew James Boyling AKA Jim Sutton is deployed into the London activist scene in 1995, and starts by working his way into hunt sabotage before finding himself in RTS
  • By 1996 the RTS ‘Street Party’ tactic has found itself replicated autonomously across the UK and abroad; the London RTS group reaches out beyond the environmental movement and forges links with the striking Liverpool dockers, militant RMT unionists on the London Underground, and elsewhere – culminating in a two-day long period of solidarity actions in and around the Merseyside Docks where jobs and safety are at stake as the private employer enforces casualisation
  • The final submissions to the court in the McLibel case are heard in December 1996 after 313 trial days, leaving the Judge unable to estimate when he will have a ruling
  • In early 1997 the repercussions of the McLibel trial are felt elsewhere, with arms fair company COPEX backing down from a libel case threatened against Peace News and Campaign Against Arms Trade, who decide to follow the example of Morris and Steel and not back down; COPEX pay out over £30k in costs
  • Similarly by Summer 1997 John Lewis plc backs down from a libel action against the National Anti-Hunt Campaign, who sought advice from the McLibel defence campaign
  • The Liverpool dockers and RTS come together again in 1997 for the ‘Reclaim The Ballots’ event in central London where despite police efforts thousands hold an open air party-cum-protest (though not at the planned location and minus much of the propaganda materials)
  • The National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) is set up at Scotland Yard in 1998, bringing together ARNI and other similar police intelligence units into a single unit focused on animal rights activists
  • In 1998 RTS and the rest of the PGA network coordinate a ‘Global Street Party’ to mark the G7 summit taking place in Birmingham with international protest
  • The remit of the NPOIU is extended to include the wider environmental movement in 1999
  • 1999 sees more RTS/RMT actions on the London Underground, before the second ‘Global Street Party’, marking the G8 summit in Cologne; in the UK this means the J18 Carnival Against Capitalism – Andrew James Boyling is a driver of an RTS blockade vehicle, which he deliberately fails to secure
  • Later in 1999 members of RTS and other groups, including Class War and London Greenpeace, organise the UK end of the third Global Street Party, ‘N30′, marking the World Trade Organisation summit in Seattle; the UK events are more diffuse than previously, with lower numbers, more locations and a more proactive police presence that culminates in the first proper British kettle outside Euston train station
  • A longer series of events, actions, meetings and bookfair in London for Mayday 2000 are coordinated by a group including RTS, ending in the ‘Guerilla Gardening’ event on Parliament Square and an attempted kettling; under extreme pressure from police and with the media pursuing ‘organisers’, some from RTS issue a televised statement
  • In 2000 Andrew James Boyling leaves his infiltration of RTS, as does Mark Jenner; meanwhile ‘Rod Richardson’ goes in, followed by ‘Simon Wellings’, Mark Kennedy AKA ‘Mark Stone’, ‘Lynn Watson’, ‘Marco Jacobs’ etc…

Edited 24/6/13 to tidy up, add in Peter Francis’ real name

McLibel fact sheet authorship clusterfuck blows up at last: spycop chickens most definitely start coming home to roost

So the spycop story – bubbling away on a low simmer for many months, publicly at least – has boiled over once more.

With Friday’s ‘revelation’ that police infiltrator Detective Inspector Bob Lambert co-wrote the contentious ‘What’s Wrong With McDonald’s’ fact sheet which precipitated the libel action against London Greenpeace finally coming out into the open, The Guardian‘s Rob Evans and Paul Lewis (Lewvans? Evis?) have brought the whole sorry saga back into the public eye.

Whilst not strictly news (after all, the core London Greenpeace activists knew all along who contributed to their leaflet, and Lambert was publicly unmasked in October 2011), the story that a cop effectively set loose the whole McLibel chain of events has had a strong impact. Of course, that impact will be compounded by the Evans/Lewis book Undercover: The True Story Of Britain’s Secret Police due out in early July, and the joint investigation with Channel 4′s Dispatches that will air on Monday night.

However, for me more interesting was the more in-depth article published on Saturday, which didn’t even merit a link at the top of the front page of the Grauniad‘s website: Undercover policemen, undercover lovers.

Tucked away in the Family section, it was an extended excerpt from the book which more effectively ties together the different threads, and shows the patterns in the behaviour of the supposed cops-gone-rogue/few rotten apples/whatever label NSY senior management damage control is running this week.

By way of a flavour, committed but non-violent activist Helen Steel was:

…spied on by three undercover officers – [Boyling], Lambert and John Dines.

First by Lambert, the sexual and emotional predator, a consummate liar and a proven Janus, seasoned Special Branch provocateur turned trainer, teacher of tradecraft, mentor…

Second by Dines, committed political cop, stealing into the feelings of a committed campaigner, conniving to be privy to privileged legal information…

Third by Boyling, Lambert’s protégé, the controlling sociopath sent in to undermine links and interconnections between environmental, labour and social movements.

The cynical abuse of people – just collateral damage in some secretive, ill-defined dirty war on dissent – that is something that leaps out from the relatively brief overview that the article gives, whether we are talking about the SDS, ARNI or NPOIU.

And you know what? It’s simply not cricket. These pricks don’t fight fair. And I think that’s why the McLibel article has had such resonance – this goes beyond cracking hippy heads, or somesuch similar rationalisation. This is as bent as is possible to be.

We know – we know - this is not about ‘isolated instances’ or ‘exceptional circumstances’ or ‘the actions of an inexperienced new recruit’. This was planned, strategised, calculated. This involved malice aforethought, stepped approval processes, the involvement of lawyers both internal and external. Paper trails. Inter-service rivalries. Personality conflicts. All the petty bullshit that these muppets can never keep a lid on indefinitely. And no matter how many internal reviews they instigate, with tightly defined scopes and pre-limited evidence, the truth will out.

Because already we know what it will look like. All that’s really left is to match the shade of shit all over the walls to a colour chart.

PS After reading Friday’s article but before Saturday’s, I started to put together a brief timeline of what was going on with the few infiltrations we do know about in the 1980s and 1990s around London Greenpeace, and to put them into some kind of context. The Saturday article rather took away the need to do that, but I’ll stick it up anyway, as incomplete as it is.

T766 KCJ, the CTA2008, FIT, NETCU, BJP, Old Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all

Undercover police in unmarked car T766 KCJ on Wilder Street

Oh look, it’s our friends the undercover coppers! In their amazing undercover family estate once again! Yes, it’s the return of Avon & Somerset constabulary’s shiny unmarked Saab 9-5 stationwagon (registration T766 KCJ), today apparently being used to watch over Wilder Street and Brunswick Street. Information received relating to a daring doughnut heist, perhaps?

I thought they might stay longer, seeing as one of them unpacked his trunk:

Didn't your mother tell you that's disgusting, officer?

Of course, there may not be many more opportunities for further such pictorial mockery of the plod. From 16th February anyone who

(a) elicits or attempts to elicit information about an individual who is or has been—
(i) a member of Her Majesty’s forces,
(ii) a member of any of the intelligence services, or
(iii) a constable,
which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or
(b) publishes or communicates any such information…

…will risk being accused of committing an offence under the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008.

As the British Journal of Photography comments:

A person found guilty of this offence could be liable to imprisonment for up to 10 years, and to a fine.

The law is expected to increase the anti-terrorism powers used today by police officers to stop photographers, including press photographers, from taking pictures in public places. ‘Who is to say that police officers won’t abuse these powers,’ asks freelance photographer Justin Tallis, who was threatened by an officer last week.

Tallis, a London-based photographer, was covering the anti-BBC protest on Saturday 24 January when he was approached by a police officer. Tallis had just taken a picture of the officer, who then asked to see the picture. The photographer refused, arguing that, as a press photographer, he had a right to take pictures of police officers.

According to Tallis, the officer then tried to take the camera away. Before giving up, the officer said that Tallis ‘shouldn’t have taken that photo, you were intimidating me.’ The incident was caught on camera by photojournalist Marc Vallée.

"Artist's impression"

“Artist’s impression”

The image above [original picture removed at request of the photographer, Marc Vallée] is of the very incident described in the BJP, with the policeman in the Forward Intelligence Team jacket pulling on the camera cord around Justin Tallis’s neck. Photographer Marc Vallée has blogged in the first person about the incident.

Superintendent Steve Pearl, head of NETCUAnti-police state activist group FITwatch has, meanwhile, called for mass resistance to the act, and pledged to continue publishing photographs taken of FIT, EG and other police specialists. To underline this commitment, it has posted up a lovely photograph of Superintendent Steve Pearl, the head of NETCU, a police unit tasked with smearing political activists as terrorists.

In other news: The House of Lords has ruled that police forces can do whatever the fuck they like, against anyone, on a whim.

Further reading:

Edited 9/3/9 to correct the bloody title! :O

The Great Brutish Bobby: Politically-motivated, disingenuous and without conscience

Photojournalist Jason N Parkinson has posted up an excellent short documentary on the police harassment of media workers covering the Climate Camp at Kingsnorth last August:

In August 2008, environmental protestors set up camp in Kent, England, to protest the current and newly proposed E-On coal-fired power stations at Kingsnorth.

Part One of two films, Covering Climate Camp documents not the protest movement, but the journalists trying to cover the story for independent and mainstream news organisations.

In some of the worst scenes of police interference the press were subjected to stop-and-search, harassment, aggression and violence, which led to the National Union of Journalists and the industry media publically slamming the police on the grounds of press freedom restriction.

Part Two of two films, Covering Climate Camp continues to document the press coverage and subsequent press freedom restrictions. As the policing gets heavier, journalists trying to cover the story for independent and mainstream news organisations face surveillance, harassment, endless stop-and-searches and assault – they are even followed by a police unit to a McDonald’s restaurant.

Tip o’ the titfer: Marc Vallée

Green scare UK: Observer wages police’s proxy war on eco-activists

Police warn of growing threat from eco-terrorists

Fear of deadly attack by lone maverick as officers alert major firms to danger of green extremism

By Mark Townsend and Nick Denning

(The Observer, 9 November 2008)

Police have warned of the growing threat of eco-terrorism after revealing they are investigating a group which has supporters who believe that reducing the Earth’s population by four-fifths will help to protect the planet.

Officers from a specialist unit dedicated to tackling domestic terrorism are monitoring an eco-movement called Earth First! which has advocates who state that cutting the Earth’s population by 80 per cent will ease pressure on other species. Officers are concerned a ‘lone maverick’ eco-extremist may attempt a terrorist attack aimed at killing large numbers of Britons.

The National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit, which collates intelligence and advice to police forces, has revealed that eco-activists are researching a list of target companies which they believe are major polluters or are exacerbating the threat of climate change.

The unit is currently monitoring blogs and internet traffic connected to a network of UK climate camps and radical environmental movements under the umbrella of Earth First!, which has claimed responsibility for a series of criminal acts in recent months.

A senior source at the unit said it had growing evidence of a threat from eco-activists. ‘We have found statements that four-fifths of the human population has to die for other species in the world to survive.

‘There are a number of very dedicated individuals out there and they could be dangerous to other people.’

Earth First! says its mission is ‘about direct action to halt the destruction of the Earth’ and advocates ‘civil disobedience and monkeywrenching’, tactics that include sabotage and disruptive behaviour. The movement has links to US environmental extremists which have waged a campaign of violence in America, including the firebombing of a string of 4×4 car dealerships in California in 2003 and alleged arson attacks on other property.

The anti-extremist unit has already alerted a number of major companies which have been accused of being carbon polluters with advice on how they can withstand being targeted by eco-terrorists. Companies are thought to include airport operator BAA, an international mining conglomerate BHP Billiton and firms connected to UK coal-fired power stations.

‘They are doing research of possible targets, looking at shareholders and financiers. For example, they could research an airline and see how many of its aircraft are not environmentally friendly,’ said the NETCU source.

Although green extremists have yet to embark on an orchestrated campaign of violence in the UK, officers warn that they may be about to launch a campaign of intimidation and fear aimed at disrupting businesses. ‘For some people, if they can justify it in their minds, then it’s a noble cause even if it’s a criminal action. They haven’t started yet, but we believe they will come up with a strategy and tactics,’ said the source at the unit, who described the movement as well-funded and organised.

A spate of recent attacks, for which Earth First! supporters have claimed responsibility, has included vandalism of branches of seven German banks such as Deutsche Bank and Allianz AG. The actions were apparently because the banks hold shares in UK Coal, which plans to build new coal-fired power stations.

A statement on the Earth First! website explains the attacks by saying: ‘Exploitation of the environment and people by the state and industry go hand in hand. They cannot be separated and both must be attacked. Social war, not climate chaos.’

Another attack hit a quarry in Staffordshire which belongs to Bardon Aggregates, a company hat also owns a controversial quarry at Glensanda on the north-west coast of Scotland. The Scottish quarry is accused of spoiling the Highlands environment. The Earth First! website states: ‘We slashed tyres, stripped paint jobs, glued locks and trashed conveyor belts. All the earth movers were hit and many of the cement and aggregate trucks. This action cost us very little but should cost Bardon thousands.’

Among the network of groups under the Earth First! umbrella are various climate camps. Last August police found a stash of knives and weapons beside one such camp in Kent. Protesters, however, said they had nothing to do with the weapons and accused police of launching a ‘smear campaign’.

A spokesman for Derby Earth First! said the movement was strictly non-violent, if not always law-abiding. He said: ‘If someone does ecological damage we would perhaps break the law and protect the ecology, but the ecology also includes humans.

‘We’re all about communities. Capitalism is the problem and we want to return to a more sustainable time. But we are not about reducing the population, that is just scaremongering by the police.’

The rise of eco-extremism coincides with the fall of the animal rights activist movement. Police said the animal rights movement was in ‘disarray’ and that its ringleaders had either been prosecuted or were awaiting prosecution, adding that its ‘critical mass’ of hardcore extremists was sufficiently depleted to have halted its effectiveness. Last Thursday a prominent animal rights activist accused of planting petrol bombs at Oxford University was cleared of possessing an explosive substance with intent.

Reports on the Earth First! Journal website, which tells users how to send encrypted emails, reveals connections to the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) which has been linked to a series of violent attacks in the US. ELF was classified as the top domestic terrorism threat in the US by the FBI in March 2001.

The ELF was founded in 1992 in Brighton by members of the Earth First! movement who wanted to form a breakaway group that would use more extreme tactics.

There’s so much that should be said about this, but I don’t have the time at the moment, so here’s a few convenient bullet points:

  • Unnamed, anonymous, uncorroborated source
  • No serious attempt to verify any of the claims
  • No background to NETCU
  • Smear and innuendo used in place of facts and evidence

All in all, an odd ‘news’ story in that there appears to be no news event on which to hang it – it’s almost as though The Observer is simply repeating a line fed to them by NETCU in line with NETCU’s own strategic or tactical objectives. Surely not!

And here’s a few links:

ETA mk4 (Thursday):

Some more links to blogs picking up on this:

Internet coup! NETCU anti-protest guide hits the public domain

Oops! Police at the Climate Camp in Kent have dropped a clanger – or more specifically a copy of their demonstrators=turrists handbook, the NETCU Policing Protest Pocket Legislation Guide (“For Police Use Only”).

NETCU? Who they? Well, the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit “forms part of the national policing response to domestic extremism”, and gives advice to individual police forces and other ‘enforcement agencies’ relating to this. There’s even a handy little biography on the inside page of Policing Protest (with even handier contact details):

NETCU provides tactical advice and guidance on policing single-issue domestic extremism. The unit also supports companies and other organisations that are the targets of domestic extremism campaigns. NETCU reports through the National Coordinator for Domestic Extremism (NCDE) to the Association of Chief Police Officers Terrorism and Allied Matters – ACPO(TAM) committee.

National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (NETCU)
PO Box 525, Huntingdon, PE29 9AL
Tel: 01480 425091
Fax: 01480 425007
Email: mailbox@netcu.pnn.police.uk
Web: http://www.netcu.org.uk

Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 applies to public authorities in England and Wales. Under the Act, organisations listed in Schedule 1 to the Act – either by name or by description – have to provide public access to information they hold. NETCU is not a public authority as defined by Schedule 1 and therefore there are no obligations on NETCU to disclose information under the Act. Police forces are advised not to release this guide following freedom of information requests.

Edition 2 – November 2007

It could be seen as a successor to projects such as ARNI, the Animal RIghts National Index which was subsequently rolled out to encompass a wide range of environmental and social activists.

One can also see it in the context of the ‘Green Scare‘, the post-COINTELPRO pursuit of the ELF and others in the United States.

And let us also consider NETCU’s targeting of groups it considers to be engaged in ‘tertiary terrorism’ (most notably animal rights campaigns such as SHAC).

From creating databases which log the activities of entirely lawful groups and individuals, through to the arbitrary casting of politically-motivated behaviours beyond the spheres of the lawful, unlawful or criminal into the less rationally-bound romper room labelled terrorism (with all its attendant emotional responses); that is the nature of the NETCU game.

In other words, through bureaucratic manoeuvring, artless sophistry and ideologically-motivated authoritarianism, NETCU shifts the goalposts for what passes for legal protest. Thus a terrorist is not defined by her or his actions, but by having been labelled a terrorist (by way of ‘domestic extremist’). Thus terrorism is not “the systematic use of terror, esp as a means of coercion” (Penguin Pocket English Dictionary, 1990), it is any activity undertaken by those previously defined by the new terms of reference as ‘terrorists’.

That the NETCU website is liberally sprinkled with pictures of yogurt-weaving peace marchers, clowns(!) and, erm, the Countryside Alliance should give an indication of exactly whom the organisation considers a ‘domestic extremist’ – that’s right, pretty much anyone who ever dares dissent from the Westminster-approved script.

So read the Policing Protest book and find out how you should behave in future lest you accidentally become a dangerous terrorist.

Links: